Makerere entering renaissance era- Museveni

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A graduand poses for the camera

President Museveni has congratulated the parents, guardians and sponsors upon their children’s successful completion and  for the sacrifice made to send grand sons and daughters  to school who have graduated at Makerere University.

The graduation ceremony was presided over by Makerere University Chancellor, Prof. Ezra Suruma at the Freedom Square.

The ceremony was also graced by the President of the Republic of Uganda represented by the Prime Minister, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda and the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni.

In his speech read for him by Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, the President congratulated all graduands upon successfully completing their respective courses.

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“When I visited Makerere on 25th September 2020, I congratulated and thanked the Vice Chancellor, Staff and Students upon entering an era of renaissance. Just as the renaissance period in Europe resulted in its economic rebirth, I am sure that Makerere is now entering a similar era. In October I had a conference with some of your leaders and I want to reassure that I am committed to getting money for all those innovations”, the president appreciated.

Hon. Dr. Rugunda reported that in the Presidents New Year’s Message for 2020, he outlined that apart from negotiating for markets abroad, government will also help the people to broaden the final products from raw-materials.

He noted that many of the products that the president  saw being exhibited at Makerere’s Agricultural Exhibition last year in September were in line with this agenda citing technologies and innovation in Agriculture, leather shoe making and   animal vaccines as among examples.

The Prime Minister reported that the NRM Government’s intervention, was slowly moving from a state of underproduction to overproduction in various sectors.

He said the country now has reports of too much sugar (400,000 tonnes versus 300,000 tonnes consumed in Uganda), too much maize (5 million tonnes versus 1 million tones consumed), too much milk (2.5 billion litres versus 800 million litres consumed) which results in reduced prices for our farmers at harvest time.

The President however wrote that, this should not be the case going forward because Uganda has raw materials in bigger quantities and shall be able to attract more investors to make other products such as refined sugar, molasses, animal feeds, industrial and pharmaceutical grade starch, ethanol, baby milk and many others.  He added that all these products are in high demand because data from import figures shows that Uganda spend precious foreign exchange importing them.

“I urge researchers at Makerere University to continue supporting the initiatives by Government to re-orient the mindsets of our people in the village. In December 2019, I toured the first ever restored wetland project in Limoto Parish of Putiputi Sub-County, Pallisa District in Eastern Uganda. The people living around that area had gradually destroyed the wetland by growing rice only to earn Shs. 7 million per year.

Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda speaking on representing the President

We therefore used US$4 million out of the US$24 provided by Green Climate Fund and the Government of Uganda to restore Limoto wetlands. We also excavated 5 fishponds of one thousand square meters each at the edge of the swamp, with a capacity of rearing 6,000 fish each. This will enable Limoto residents to fetch between Shs.70 to 80 million per annum while also protecting our precious swamps. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries will open up similar projects in 24 Districts in the country so as to continue waking up more of our people.

The Prime Minister expressed Government commitment to supporting Makerere and other universities so that they can play the role expected of them in national development.

“We have demonstrated this through availing the Shs. 30 billion to the Research and Innovations Fund at Makerere University. This is only the beginning of better things to come as we work together to transform Uganda and  reorient mindsets of our people from subsistence to commercial thinking”. Hon. Rugunda stated.

He  saluted the graduands and their parents upon this achievement saying: “This stage of your Education might have come to an end but the learning process okusoma must continue. It is only by remaining hungry for knowledge that you will effectively utilize the knowledge that you have acquired here to help transform our Country,” the Prime minister advised.

The First lady and Minister of Education and sports Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni Congratulated Makerere University upon  this year’s graduation  that has produced more female than male graduands, at 50.5% compared to 49.5%.

The minister congratulated the University Council, Management and Senate for continually ensuring that the deserving girl child is not left out through the Affirmative Action programme. She also   congratulated the University Leadership for taking the decision to double the number of girls supported under the Female Scholarship Foundation effective the next academic year 2020/2021.

Hon. Janet Kataha Museveni addressing the congregation

Mrs. Museveni said, under the recently ended National Strategy for Girls’ Education (NSGE) in Uganda (2015–2019), the Ministry of Education and Sports set out to establish a clear framework for identification, implementation and coordination of interventions designed to achieve promote girls’ education. One of the strategic objectives during the aforementioned period was to institutionalize research on Girls’ Education  so as to inform policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Mrs. Janet Museveni noted that the government’s deliberate efforts in line with girls’ education were starting to pay off with statistics drawn from the Education and Sports Sector Factsheets revealing  that the number of girls especially in Tertiary Education is steadily growing.

“Makerere University’s 70th Graduation Ceremony statistics offer good grounds for discussion of Male to Female rations in tertiary education. Whereas female graduands at Undergraduate level stood at 51.8%, this percentage declined to 40.1% at Masters level and even lower to 27.9% at PhD level.

Whereas we are cognizant of natural responsibilities such as taking care of children and families that accompany females who reach adulthood, I would like to challenge our researchers particularly those in Statistics, Social Sciences as well as Women and Gender Studies to further investigate the issues that lead to this rapid decline”, The Minister said.

She said the girl child’s participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects especially at post-primary level remains relatively low. This inevitably reduces the number of girls who pursue careers in STEM-related disciplines.

Mrs. Museveni  commended the Makerere University Council for recognizing this gap and seeking to bridge it by approving the Affirmative Action Policy providing for a 40 percent enrollment quota for female students in STEM.

The Minister also commended development partners who through the Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapED) are supporting the Ugandan Government to develop national guidelines on how to implement gender responsive pedagogies at primary and secondary school levels.

In her concluding remarks the Minister thanked the University community for keeping Makerere University high up in the rankings despite the challenges the University faces. Saying, Government appreciates the efforts and hard work.

To the graduands Mrs. Museveni had this to say: “Always endeavour to be an avenue of peace and love wherever you go and together, we shall make our communities, our nation and the world a better place to live in”

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